Night Hunt (2022)

Rating: C

Dir: Ricardo Islas
Star: Monica Ochoa, Adilene Martínez, Tiffany J. Curtis, Ricardo Islas

This urban vampire-hunting film owes an obvious debt, in just about every area from the title on down, to Kolchak: The Night Stalker. It’s even explicitly referenced in the dialogue at one point. Rather than one investigative reporter though, we have two: Pilar (Ochoa) and her partner – both domestic and professional – Shelley (Martínez). They work for a Chicago radio station, though their loose approach to their work makes them the bane of their boss. They investigate a string of murders, beginning with a photographer and his model: the former had her throat cut, the latter has his torn out, but had long dead flesh stuck underneath his finger-nails.

The further Pilar and Shelley look into things, the more they are convinced the killings are the work of a vampire, a concept the authorities refuse even to consider. Our heroines are, of course, completely right. Crowley (Islas) was resurrected in an occult ceremony by the photographer, who then quickly became the vampire’s first meal. After he narrowly fails to kill Sandra (Curtis), she becomes an important witness, and he makes further attempts to finish the job. Our intrepid girl reporters, though, are putting together the pieces, and talk to the last person who was successful in defeating Crowley – at the time, they thought permanently – down in South America. After getting a tip-off from Crowley’s real-estate agent, the pair arm themselves, in preparation to confront the monster in his lair.

This is competent, especially considering there clearly wasn’t a lot of money to spend. Islas has a lot of experience in low-budget horror, including previous entries in the vampire field, if titles like Night Fangs are any guide. This likely helps him avoid the common flaws: the lack of resources here doesn’t often become noticeable. The problem is largely its debt to Kolchak, which is more than fifty years old now. Audiences are different in the modern era, and seventies style pacing now feels plodding and sluggish. Dropping in “hip” Internet references e.g. to Reddit, is not a solution to the problem. This could also be a TV movie in terms of its content, and barely pushes the PG envelope, despite a slew of murders.

There are a couple of occasions where Islas does direct proceedings to good effect. The first attack on Sandra, when her carjackers find themselves getting bloodjacked, is effective, and there’s a later scene where Pilar and Shelley can only watch (top) on their computer as Crowley kills another victim. These helped to keep my attention from totally finding something else to do, because the plot was being singularly ineffective in this department. What you have here is strictly an old-school vampire film, with a creature averse to sunlight and stakes, though there is very little mention of religion here. Islas’s heart is clearly in the right place, and the two leads have more energy than the script. You would likely be much better off watching The Night Stalker, however.